This month we interview an urban explorer, who is well known for their natural style of processing and with this a more natural view of abandoned locations. Let’s find out more about ‘perspective distortion’ obsessed bRokEnCHaRacTer…….
1.Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I am one of the few explorers in Austria. Originally I am from Germany, but I moved to Vienna about four years ago.
I started exploring in December 2007, after a certain colleague invited me to join him on one of his tours. In 2008, I started to make extended tours to other regions and countries. By now, exploring has taken a role in my life – I spend most of my holidays abroad in abandoned locations.
2.What came first for you, photography or urban exploration?
Well, the “experience” of urban explorations was more important in the beginning. This changed gradually when I got my first DSLR in 2008. In the beginning I only used the cheapo 5 MPixel point-and-shoot camera of my brother to make some documentary snapshots.
3.How did you develop your photography style?
I started like anyone else: Snapshots with bad composition, awful framing and no post-processing. After some time, I replaced the last point with horrible post-processing (namely badly done HDRs). With time, my shots got a little better. I found out that for me, exposure fusion is the better technique to increase the dynamic range of an image instead of Tonemapping. I don’t mind some blown out parts in most of my images, as long as the image looks somewhat natural. Also, I am a bit obsessed now with perspective distortions, (almost) everything has to be straight. This is one of the reasons, I bought a Tilt/Shift lens. I like the shot from the forgotten church pretty much, even if the location was photographed by so many other explorers. I used my shift lens to show the great dome of the church without resorting to tilt the camera. Also, I used exposure fusion to get a higher dynamic range.
Another favourite of mine are silhouette photos of other explorers or me in dark places. Sure, they look all more or less the same, but nevertheless I like them
4.Are there any photographers that inspire you?
5.What’s in your kit bag? What’s next on your wishlist and if money was no issue what kit would you want?
At the moment I am using a Canon 5D Mark II. I usually bring a Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II, Canon TS-E 17mm f/4L, Canon EF 50mm f/1.4, Zeiss ZE 35mm f/2 and a Sigma 15mm f/2.8 EX DG Fisheye with me. Apart from that I always bring a tripod, two flash lighs, spare batteries, etc. with me.
I definitely want to try large format this year. If I like it, I might go for a TOYO 45GX with a Schneider 58mm lens.
If money was no issue I’d probably get a Alpa or Cambo.
6.What does a typical day of urbex consist of for you?
Getting up early and hours of driving
7.What has been your favourite location to date?
Hard to say, but I think it was the Non Plus Ultra castle. The whole place is just amazing, pictures don’t do it justice.
8.What has been you most memorable explore so far?
Well, this were probably the abandoned battleships. It’s really something else to explore abandoned ships, especially when there not reachable without a boat. We woke up at 4 AM, had to drive 45 minutes to the coast where we spend 1.5 hours to get our boats and equipment to the water and inflate the boats. All for approximately 7 minutes of rowing to the ships…
9.Which locations are next on your list?
My next trip will be to Italy. I have plans to visit an old power plant, a synthetic fibre factory, a paper mill and some other nice industrial locations.
10.If you could explore anywhere, where would it be?
I’d definitely would like to see Hashima Island (probably as much as anyone else). And I’d love to have seen Beelitz in the early 2000 years, before everything was trashed.
11.What are your thoughts on HDR?
I used to like it some years ago, but my taste has changed. I don’t use it for my pictures anymore.
12.Who would you next like to see as photographer of the month?
Dsankt from sleepycity.
13. Talk Urbex forum member image for critique.
I quite like the desaturated look with the whole picture. And it is not excessively tone mapped, which is always a plus for me
What I don’t like too much is the light coming from the window: for me, it looks too artificial. I also can’t help to wonder why the person on the image holds a turned on light, while it is bright enough in the room. I am also not a big fan of gas masks on photos, but this is just my personal taste. Composition wise, the image looks a bit unbalanced. I feel that the left part with the smaller part of the engine could have been left out. This is a hard image for me to criticize, since the style is quite different from what I aim for.
Thank you to bRokEnCHaRacTer for his great answers, you can keep upto date with bRokEnCHaRacTer’s work on his Flickr Photostream, so go check it out…..